The Coyotes finishing up their jam-packed five-game road trip on Sunday, so they might be a bit worn down. The Blackhawks should be able to take advantage.
Momentum can change on the turn of a dime. Just ask the Phoenix Coyotes, who had won eight straight and allowed just 13 goals in the process, but have since lost two in a row while giving up the same amount of goals.
Coyotes Can Win Because…
The Chicago Blackhawks are not as sound at the back end as they
were last season, which is why they wouldn’t be in the playoffs if they started
Much of the blame has been placed on goaltender Corey
Crawford and rightfully so, but the defense in front of him hasn’t been as strong
either. The blue line never found a replacement for Brent Sopel, who was an
excellent penalty killer and provided reliable depth. They’ve had to ride their
top four defensemen much harder and that has led to some erratic play.
The Blackhawks penalty kill was among the league’s best
last year but now it’s among the league’s worst. They have allowed eight goals
in the last 32 times they have been down a man and that 75% success rate would
rank them dead last in the league.
The Coyotes have struggled in the last two games but the
good news is that reinforcements might be on the way. Upshall’s suspension is
over and with a bit of luck, Ray Whitney and Adrian Aucoin will be back on
The key to this contest will be the goaltending. Ilya
Bryzgalov was blitzed in Columbus on Thursday but he’s been very sound
otherwise. The Coyotes will have a big edge in net for this contest as
Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawford has been spotty this season, to say the
Blackhawks Can Win Because…
Phoenix is wearing out down the stretch of their
five-game road trip. There was no better example of this than their most recent
loss in Columbus.
The Coyotes took a quick 2-0 lead but the Blue Jackets
roared back for a 5-3 win. The culprits? Not only was it their third road game
in four nights but what compounded their problems was a lack of depth.
With Ed Jovanovski, Adrian Aucoin, Ray Whitney and
Scottie Upshall out, the Coyotes lost some punch both on offense and defense.
While Upshall will be back on Sunday, Aucoing and Whitney will be questionable,
while Jovanovski will remain out.
This will be the Coyotes fourth road game in six nights.
For Chicago, they are rolling right now. They have been
one of the most unpredictable and inconsistent teams in the NHL this season for NHL bettors and fans alike, but
right now their mojo is working. They have won four of their last five games
while allowing just 10 goals in those contests.
The Blackhawks seem to do just fine when they receive
steady goaltending and right now, Corey Crawford is providing that. He’s 5-2-1
in the month of February with a 1.84 GAA.
Outlook & NHL
The Blackhawks have been associated with big price tags
all season long but they haven’t exactly paid dividends. Even so, this is one
spot where they are worth a play. They are currently favored by 1.5 on the NHL odds boards, and the betting odds makers have set the total at 5.5.
Facing a Coyotes squad that will be a bit drained playing
their fourth road game in six nights, the Blackhawks will take advantage and
earn their fifth win in six tries. So go to your sportsbook and side with Chicago tonight to come away with a victory.